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How To Avoid a Grizzly Bear Attack While Hiking In Yellowstone Park, Glacier Park and Grand Teton Park: Four Basic Rules
There are Four Basic Rules that all hikers need to follow if they are hiking in Yellowstone Park, Glacier Park and Grand Teton National Park to avoid a grizzly bear attack. These rules are agreed upon by the National Park Service, and if followed, you will reduce the chances of a grizzly bear attack dramatically.
Statistically, a grizzly bear attack is very rare, but it’s not rare if it happens to be YOU who are faced with this terrifying event, so we strongly urge all hikers to follow these four basic rules of hiking in grizzly country. These rules will not only reduce the chances of injury or death, but will also greatly reduce the chances of even having an encounter with a grizzly bear.
RULE #1: NEVER HIKE ALONE
This is the number one rule while hiking in grizzly bear country. Statistics have proven over and over again that there is “strength in numbers”. The more people that are hiking together, the less of a chance for a grizzly bear encounter or grizzly bear attack.
Two hikers are FAR better than one, and the National Park Service even recommends that visitors hike in groups of three or more. Studies have shown that a grizzly bear is far less likely to attack a group of hikers compared to a single hiker. A single hiker is far less intimidating to a grizzly bear, and the bear is more likely to show aggression to this single hiker in certain circumstances, whereas if there are several hikers, the grizzly will behave much differently…and likely far less aggressively.
RULE #2: BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
To avoid a grizzly attack in Yellowstone Park, Glacier Park and Grand Teton National Park, hikers must constantly be aware of their surroundings. Hikers tend to look directly at the trail in front of their feet when they hike instead of looking far down the trail or at the areas on each side of the trail. This is a common behavior of hikers, and it can get them into trouble. Hikers really need to make sure they are always looking ahead as well as looking to both sides of the trail. This will obviously help them see a bear (or bears) further ahead of them rather than when the bear is right next to them. This in turn dramatically reduces the chances of a grizzly bear attack because the hikers can respond before the grizzly sees these hikers as a threat.
RULE #3: MAKE NOISE TO AVOID SURPRISING A GRIZZLY BEAR
The number one reason why a grizzly bear attacks humans is because the bear was surprised by the hiker and responded in a defensive manner. You see, grizzly bears attack when they feel threatened or if their cubs appear to be threatened. This is a very basic and automatic “fight or flight” response, and when the bear chooses “fight” rather than “flight”, the hiker(s) are in really big trouble and are in great risk of being attacked by this particular grizzly bear.
To avoid surprising a grizzly bear while hiking in Yellowstone Park, Glacier Park and Grand Teton National Park, we highly recommend that you “TALK LOUD” while you hike. Studies have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the human voice is by far the best tool to let grizzly bears in the area know you are there. The human voice is better than any other “noise maker” such as bear bells. In fact, bear bells have been shown to actually provoke a bear’s curiosity because it is such an unnatural and unfamiliar sound.
By talking loud while you hike, this allows bears in the area to know plenty of time in advance that you’re coming down the trail, and therefore allowing the bear (or bears) to avoid you. By not surprising a grizzly bear while hiking, this greatly reduces your chances of being attacked or even having a confrontation. Bears in general prefer to avoid humans, and by giving them the “heads up”, this gives them time to get out of the area. And by not surprising the bear(s), you will not activate their instinctual “fight or flight” response.
#4: ALWAYS CARRY BEAR SPRAY AND KNOW HOW TO USE IT
If a hiker follows these first three rules of hiking in grizzly country, then that hiker will more than likely not need to use this fourth and final rule, but there are occasions where the hiker(s) do everything right, and still are faced with a grizzly bear attack. So this final rule while hiking in grizzly bear country is essential, because when things go bad, it will literally save the hiker’s life.
Studies have shown that if a hiker has bear spray and knows how to use it, that hiker…if faced with a grizzly bear attack, will reduce his/her chances of injury or death by over 90%. That’s a statistic that has been proven over and over again, and therefore reinforces the absolute necessity of ALWAYS CARRYING BEAR SPRAY.
And having the bear spray inside a day pack doesn’t count because a grizzly bear attack can occur in a split second, and the hiker will not have time to pull out the canister of bear spray before the bear is physically on him or her. Therefore, each hiker should have the bear spray on their hip or on their chest… which provides quick and easy access in case of a grizzly bear attack.
Also, EACH HIKER needs to have his or her very own bear spray. This is imperative because if one hiker is being attacked by a grizzly bear and he/she can’t get to his or her bear spray, then the other hiker(s) can spray the bear.
And carrying bear spray is not enough. The hiker must know exactly HOW AND WHEN TO USE THE BEAR SPRAY. Therefore, the hiker must read the instructions over and over again, and practice removing the safety clip, and visualize in his or her mind spraying a bear, so in the event of an actually grizzly bear attack, the hiker has already “practiced” spraying the bear in his or her mind. We also recommend that each hiker talk to a ranger about the proper use of their bear spray so they are fully prepared in the rare but unfortunate circumstance of being confronted with a charging grizzly bear in Yellowstone Park, Glacier Park or Grand Teton National Park…. or anywhere else grizzlies roam.
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